Most of those in attendance at the Hay-Adams hotel last week were the tried and true union leaders who have stood by the Democratic Party regardless of candidate for decades. But this wasn’t a friendly get together as far as the labor folks were concerned. The luncheon had been set up by Gore backers, and included the pol’s longtime labor policy guru Bill Samuel, and according to a lobbyist for the AFL-CIO, their leadership wasn’t that thrilled to have to sit down with their former pal.
“There was a lot of resentment toward him,” says the lobbyist. “This was a guy who never really thanked us for all the hard work we did for him during the campaign. Organized labor also pumped a lot of money and manpower into Florida during the recount, and we never heard a peep of gratitude for that.”
So Gore walked into a room where several senior AFL-CIO officials sat, as well as Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, Country, and Municipal Employees; Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, among others — though not AFL-CIO boss John Sweeney. He was invited but chose instead to focus on his organization’s Wall Street protests in New York City. Several backers of Joseph Lieberman and Tom Daschle duly noticed Sweeney’s absence.
Gore spoke as if assuming labor would continue to back him regardless. According to the AFL-CIO lobbyist, who learned of the meeting from attendees, “Gore basically said this was a belated thank you. He didn’t apologize for anything, but he made it clear to everyone there that his message of defending the little guy was going to continue, regardless of what other people said.”
The meeting with his union pals occurred several days after Gore’s 2000 running mate, Joe Lieberman, lambasted him for that very message, saying he believed it was a contributing factor to their loss. The meeting between Gore and his union backers was followed up on Sunday with his op-ed in the New York Times, in which he seemingly insisted that his class-warfare message worked then and would work now.
“If he’s all ready to kiss and make up with organized labor, it shows he’s serious about running again,” says a DNC staffer. “That meeting has been a long time in coming. It probably isn’t coincidental that it was held just as the Democratic Leadership Council meeting was ending in New York. Gore was sending a message.”p> OFF TRACK br> A year ago, Sen.
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